ex·​trap·​o·​late | \ ik-ˈstra-pə-ˌlāt How to pronounce extrapolate (audio) \
extrapolated; extrapolating

Definition of extrapolate

transitive verb

1a : to predict by projecting past experience or known data extrapolate public sentiment on one issue from known public reaction on others
b : to project, extend, or expand (known data or experience) into an area not known or experienced so as to arrive at a usually conjectural knowledge of the unknown area extrapolates present trends to construct an image of the future
2 : to infer (values of a variable in an unobserved interval) from values within an already observed interval

intransitive verb

: to perform the act or process of extrapolating

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Other Words from extrapolate

extrapolation \ ik-​ˌstra-​pə-​ˈlā-​shən How to pronounce extrapolate (audio) \ noun
extrapolative \ ik-​ˈstra-​pə-​ˌlā-​tiv How to pronounce extrapolate (audio) \ adjective
extrapolator \ ik-​ˈstra-​pə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce extrapolate (audio) \ noun

The Many Uses of Extrapolate

Scientists worry about the greenhouse effect because they have extrapolated the rate of carbon-dioxide buildup and predicted that its effect on the atmosphere will become increasingly severe. On the basis of their extrapolations, they have urged governments and businesses to limit factory and automobile emissions. Notice that it's acceptable to speak of extrapolating existing data (to produce new data), extrapolating from existing data (to produce new data), or extrapolating new data (from existing data)—in other words, it isn't easy to use this word wrong.

Examples of extrapolate in a Sentence

We can extrapolate the number of new students entering next year by looking at how many entered in previous years. With such a small study it is impossible to extrapolate accurately.
Recent Examples on the Web At least that seems safe to extrapolate from the findings of a recent global survey by Boston Consulting Group. Lila Maclellan, Quartz, "Dads are waking up to the stress of balancing caregiving with a career," 22 Mar. 2021 The agency had to extrapolate the cancer risk for female astronauts based on other kinds of radiation research. Eric Niiler, Wired, "NASA Wants to Set a New Radiation Limit for Astronauts," 11 Feb. 2021 The Twins had only 291 singles, 81 doubles and three triples in 2020, numbers that extrapolate to 791 singles, 219 doubles and seven triples over a 162-game season. Chris Miller, Star Tribune, "Five keys to the Twins' success in 2021," 1 Apr. 2021 After granting the human race these structures and their accompanying insights, the aliens abruptly departed, leaving Earthlings to extrapolate science and culture from their galactic gifts. Patrick Lyons, Billboard, "10 Ways That Daft Punk's 'Discovery' Predicted Pop Music's Future, As Explained by Fellow Artists," 12 Mar. 2021 Antibody surveys can help extrapolate infections, but antibodies wane over time and more quickly in mild and asymptomatic cases. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Fact-Checking Facebook’s Fact Checkers," 5 Mar. 2021 The action feels too new and too superheated to extrapolate. Samanth Subramanian, Quartz, "As Covid-19 destroyed real economies, Second Life’s economy boomed," 25 Feb. 2021 Twins hit only 291 singles and 81 doubles as well, numbers that extrapolate to 791 singles and 219 doubles over a 162-game season. Phil Miller, Star Tribune, "Twins offense has had a very hit-or-miss approach," 13 Feb. 2021 The Rig can extrapolate into the future using data from the subject’s past. Tade Thompson, Wired, "The Future of Work: ‘ars longa’ by Tade Thompson," 18 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'extrapolate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of extrapolate

1874, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2

History and Etymology for extrapolate

Latin extra outside + English -polate (as in interpolate) — more at extra-

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Time Traveler for extrapolate

Time Traveler

The first known use of extrapolate was in 1874

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Statistics for extrapolate

Last Updated

19 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Extrapolate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extrapolate. Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for extrapolate



English Language Learners Definition of extrapolate

formal : to form an opinion or to make an estimate about something from known facts

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